Powering Server Core

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Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 came with built-in support for serial and USB connected Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) devices. From within the Power Options you could manage your UPS and the shutdown behavior of the box.

About UPS Devices

UPS devices help prevent loss of data from power loss (“black-outs) by shutting down the server properly instead of abruptly. The device also helps protect the server hardware from power surges, brown outs, drop outs and voltage fluctuations, extending the life of the hardware. For more information on power outages look here.


Configuring UPS Devices

From the console

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 doesn’t offer this built-in support anymore.

You’ll need to install the software from the UPS manufacturer to benefit from advanced shutdown behavior, calibrate the UPS device. The upside to this story is these software packages support UPS devices, connected using network connections, USB connections and through serial connections. These software packages also allow for a connected Windows servers to send alerts to other Windows servers to perform actions.

Since most UPS devices are rebranded units from American Power Conversion (APC), you can use the APC software. When looking at the PCBE8 compat chart.pdf I noticed APC Powerchute Business Edition software is available for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. (both x86 and x64).

To avoid problems make sure you define an update policy for any 3rd party software you install on your Windows installation. While Automatic Updates will take care of the Operating System it may not take care of your 3rd party applications, resulting in unwanted behavior.

From remote hosts

System Center environments

When your environment is an environment with System Center products installed, you’re in big luck. System Center Operations Manager (which is also available in System Center Essentials and System Center Management Suite Enterprise) with 3rd party extensions can also be used to manage UPS devices.

Jalasoft and Quest both have an extensive library with extensions for System Center Operations Manager (or SCOM for short). These two companies both have an extension for UPS hardware. Jalasoft offers an extension for APC hardware, where Quest offers support for six major brands.

In environments with multiple products from the System Center family the added value increases, as I’ll explain in the real life scenario at the end of this blogpost…

Virtualized environments

Network-connected UPS devices are extremely handy in Hyper-V environments, since most server hardware virtualization solutions nowadays don’t support the USB or serial drive from the virtual host / parent partition to be made available to the virtual guest / child partition. With a network-connected UPS device you can have one of the virtual guests / child partitions communicate with the UPD device and send commands to other machines, including the virtual host / parent partition on which it runs.

When you shutdown a single host running Hyper-V it will pause all guests and shutdown.

A virtual guest / child partition running System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) for instance can connect to, and manage network connected UPSs. One of the benefits of using APCs PowerChute software or the Quest/Jalasoft System Center extensions together with System Center Virtual Machine Manager is you can create Powershell scripts in System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) and assign these to specific timers.


In the real world

Let’s look at a real world scenario. A company is running a geographically dispersed failover cluster ('geocluster') of Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V Role installed.

when a power loss (black out) occurs for 15 minutes a command to migrate virtual guests to the other location (where there's no power outage?) can be triggered:

  1. When using System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), the first can alert the latter through PRO tips to failover the child partitions (virtual guests) and power down the parent partitions (virtual hosts).
  2. When using APC PowerChute a Powershell command using the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) script library can be called from within the Powerchute configuration to failover the child partitions (virtual guests). An additional trigger can be configured to shut down the parent partition (virtual host) after a specific amount of time. (Powershell is not needed in that case)

Of course in this scenario the systems administrator should make sure every component used in the scenario is UPS protected. (Contact your ISP for information on the protection of components between your locations.)



Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) devices can be used with Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 in multiple scenarios.

You can use software to manage the UPS device from the console. In that case you need to contact the manufacturer of your UPS device whether the software is suitable and supported for Server Core installations specifically. APC PowerChute Business Edition is supported and offers some great benefits over the previously available built-in UPS options in Windows Server 2003.

You can also use software to send commands to Server Core installations, triggered by UPS device events from other hosts. These remote hosts might run APC PowerChute software or products from the System Center family of products.

Further reading

[PDF] Windows Built-in Serial & USB UPS Support
How To Manage Your Uninterruptible Power Supply With UPS Assistant
How Does An Uninterruptible Power Supply Work?
Tips For Maintaining Your UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) – The Backup Power Source
APC PowerChute 7.x Upgrades
Downtime costs huge sums of money
Adventures in UPS land

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